Saturday, September 08, 2018

2018 Topps Fire blaster recap

This was probably my best pull out of a random blaster box of 2018 Topps Fire - this is from the 4-card Gold Minted bonus pack included in each blaster.

I've tried to stay away from blaster box purchases, because they seem like a tease of miscellaneous cards rather than something relatively fulfilling - as is, I kind of liked what these cards looked like, particularly the parallels that seem to pop.

Impulsively, maybe what I’m looking for is a product that reflect the here and now - I want something that looks a little different, a little spacey as opposed to a product that uses a retro design [Topps Heritage, Topps Gypsy Queen, Topps Allen and Ginter, Topps Archives] and/or a product that doesn't really stray from what a baseball card looks like [Topps Flagship].

Topps Fire will never be the product of the year or anything - but maybe worth at least a couple of more looks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani 650 & 650J

I saw there was Ohtani Topps Now cards offered for his latest feats, but only after I’d paid for a couple of 15% off promo purchases.

I don’t know how much I’ve really thought about adding any Ohtani’s packed pulled cards - but look to at least complete a rookie season's worth of Topps Now cards.

Ohtani has been a pretty good slugging rookie DH, though it remains to be seen whether he will pitch again this year - despite things ramping up as far getting ready for a comeback on the mound.

The combination of home runs and pitching makes Ohtani the intriguing Rookie of the Year candidate - but Ohtani hasn’t pitched and as a hitter, he’s been a platoon DH with some growing pains against left handers.

Team success matters less perhaps as far as Rookie of the Year consideration, but Miguel Andujar has played every day and piled up the counting numbers as a hitter for a contender - it wouldn't surprise me if Ohtani does win the American League Rookie of the Year, but Andujar maybe my non-homer choice.

I saved a screenshot of my favorite thing someone had to say about Ohtani all the way back in April - no truer words have been typed out.

Friday, August 24, 2018

TTM autographs received: Phil Garner

The longtime MLB player and manager signed my trading cards in about three weeks - I didn't know where I expected to see Garner in-person, but I've had his cards in my Oakland Athletics box for the past five years or so.

He was a special advisor with the A's, but I don't think he is working for the team anymore - because I was never able to get the chance to approach him in-person to get him to sign some cards, he became a 'scratch the itch' guy for me TTM.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Featured autographs - a pair of one-time Halos

I haven't done any in-person graphing at a MLB ballpark in years, so I miss out on the miscellaneous rank-and-file guys I'd probably need for my Angels all-time autograph collection - as is, other options to get any number of player autographs are just an eBay search away.

Picking up certified autographs doesn't really give me the same sense of satisfaction as getting my own card(s) inked up in-person - but when IP is simply impractical, at least I have the means to keep up with what I'm trying to do as far as getting as many different players autographs who played on 'my team.'

I bought a couple of Angels certified autograph cards and I can imagine Topps probably contracted these two players to sign a 'bunch' of cards each - no offense to anyone in particular, but as far as players listed on a checklist, these maybe the worst guys to pull off any particular pack or box break from a 2018 Topps product.

2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Parker Bridwell Rookie Black & White auto serial #'d to 50 GQA-PB [$2.10 plus $2.66 s/h] - as first-year MLB pitchers occasionally do, Bridwell had a decent rookie season in 2017, but then he didn't really fit into the Angels' plans entering the 2018 season.

He was sent to AAA to start the year - but arm problems derailed Bridwell's chances of making good on his rookie year.

2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Troy Scribner Framed Mini auto #MA-TS [$0.99 plus $3.50 s/h] - from the bits and pieces I've read, Scribner really fought his way to make it to the majors, so there is a good back story to his professional career.

However, after making his MLB debut with the Angels in 2017, Scribner couldn't stick with the team past spring training - the Arizona Diamondbacks picked him up in April, released and then re-signed him in July.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Featured autograph - Vladimir Guerrero

At the end of July, I wanted to see if there were any Topps Now cards I was interested in and saw that Guerrero had autographs listed on the Topps Web site - not that I’ve been tempted before, but by the time I usually see see anything autographed offered, the listings are marked out of stock or the prices are a bit too extravagant to begin with.

I had to put an order for a copy of this card, because it was still available and it pictured a universally loved [if not universally collected] player - who was the centerpiece player for the Angels for much of the 2000s.

The card arrived in about three weeks, inside a BCW magnetic with Topps seal - I’ll probably leave the card in the holder as is, as opposed to breaking the seal and trying to move the card into a newer magnetic.

I want to say I was worried about the autograph quality but the autograph looks fairly clean on the card - up close, there maybe points where the stroke was light, but that is how it is with the Lumocolor pens I assume Topps used.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Featured autographs - assorted certs

Sifting through the miscellaneous cards I've collected, maybe I want to start showcasing some of the 'hidden' gems over the years - I still think back to an old prehistoric Beckett Baseball Card Monthly story / contribution where a collector had these loose cards on his bookshelf [I specifically remember a 1992 Topps Stadium Club Will Clark as the picture used for the story] and how he cleaned up his bookshelf, through the cards he kept and cards he discarded.

The title of the 1990s article [something like Bookshelf of Doom] - was a riff off the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie of the 1980s.

Getting back to the cards, these were certified autographs I've collected over the past 15 years - they may have had spots in my personal collection listings, but when I revamped my PC a few years ago, these cards may have been rendered irrelevant.

I dug them out recently, so they aren't loose - to file them away in my A-Z inserts collection:

Phil Hughes [top right] - he was pretty hyped up as a young New York Yankees pitcher and FWIW, he was also a one-time card collector who used to post on Beckett Message Boards [circa 2007].

I thought this 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition auto was a great get for $5 at a spring training card show 11 or 12 years ago - but Hughes' star potential never really materialized over parts of his 12 year MLB career.

Eric Chavez [top left, top center] x2 - Chavez was a rising star third baseman back with the Moneyball A's of the early 2000s and I wanted to put away a couple of nicer looking certified autographs issues from early in his professional baseball career.

I kind of have an obsession with early autographs of professional athletes, particularly when their autographs devolve over time - Chavez's autographs tended to look like chicken scratch and were never as good looking as the ones on these cards.

Kevin Youkilis [bottom center, bottom right] - these certified autographs were a couple of my first COMC purchases in 2012; Youkilis was a Boston Red Sox fan favorite but not surprisingly, age caught up with him as he entered his 30s as a big leaguer.

Corey Hart [bottom left] - this card was most likely a pack pull and may have been worth a little something, when it was likely his only prospect era certified autograph; Hart was a two-time All-Star and a fan favorite in Milwaukee when he was doing good through his prime years, though he was essentially done as a productive MLB player after 30.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My 2018 Topps Stadium Club finds - the best of the rest

#6 Carlos Gonzalez - eyes on the prize; having a bounce back Coors Field aided season.

#34 Manuel Margot - did a drone take this awesome outfield pic?

#291 Edwin Diaz - love that fire

#64 Ender Inciarte - dirt dog

#230 Archie Bradley - pitchers hitting, awesome action, facial hair, hats-off card.

#127 Yadier Molina - play at the plate and a star on star card feat. two longtime NL Central stars [Votto].

#27 Michael Conforto - awesome outfield

#215 Wilson Contreras - play at the plate

#287 J.T. Realmuto - forced up in the air.

#15 Hanley Ramirez - mascot love for the deposed Boston Red Sox and if overzealous journalists and bloggers were to be believed, a supposed drug kingpin.

#188 Bob Gibson - old-timer legend action

#260 Amed Rosario - he almost looks like he is catching a pass in the NFL.

#219 Josh Donaldson [red foil] - game face action.

#272 Salvador Perez [red foil] - player hamming it up for the camera.

#23 Carlos Martinez [red foil] - shades

#268 A.J. Pollock - retro uniform, umpire butt shot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

1977 Topps Mark Fidrych #277

I picked this card up for a sampler run of PSA graded Topps cards from 1952-1980 - to be quite honest, the project has been in mothballs and with 7 of 29 cards towards my run, completion just isn't foreseeable at this point.

Once in a while, I might get impulsive and see if I could make a 'token' addition to see if I can even get halfway through - I don't know if it is possible to pick up a 'culturally significant' card for each of the years and I don't want to go through the trouble of doing so.

I've worked myself up as far as reading up on and wanting notable old-school / vintage rookie cards of Hall of Famers for my personal collection - but maybe the reasons for wanting this particular non-HOF rookie card are a little different.

Even as I'm only vaguely aware of Fidrych's impact as a cult figure during his only full season in Major League Baseball in 1976 - I consider his rookie as a trading card 'relic' of sorts, something I can look at and consider as a portal to the past.

Monday, August 13, 2018

My 2018 Topps Stadium Club finds - my Top 10

A subjective exercise of picking out my favorite cards after grabbing 26 of them at a card shop stop for National Baseball Card Day - in particular these stood in among others considered [for full disclosure, a follow up post will be made to highlight those other cards].

#163 Ryan Zimmerman - it's a butt shot without Zimmerman's face on his own card, but his and the fans' reactions tell me all I need to know about the 'awesomeness' of this one.

#9 Zack Godley - pool shot

#190 Ian Happ

#263 Willie Calhoun - full extension

#56 Jon Lester - a veteran star pitcher hitting

#79 Mike Clevinger - retro uniform, retro hair; a 'fun' factoid about Clevinger's professional baseball career was he was originally an Angels minor leaguer.

#107 Keon Broxton - the angle makes things seem a bit more majestic.

#209 Dillon Peters - The Dime Box mention makes this a keeper.

#167 Dexter Fowler - the player is obscured but the horizontal card allows to get more of the ballpark in the picture.

#53 Jake Lamb - a play at the play card that belongs to a third baseman and not the catcher.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani/Ian Kinsler #423

When the pitching half of Ohtani was shut down I thought his run of Topps Now cards was done for the year - there might have been closure as far as keeping up with the chase.

However, Ohtani has had some hitting highlights chronicled [1st pinch hit HR and 1st multi-HR game] - as well as this dual card with Ian Kinsler [since traded to the Boston Red Sox].

Ohtani needs to get back on the mound to continue the two-way 'Sho' but being in the Angels lineup on a regular basis has shown the athleticism and elite power that makes for a potential superstar - is there any conceivable way where he gets 500 at-bats in a season to see if he can hit 35-40 home runs?

I haven't gone out and chased many of Ohtani's pack-pulled cards, but I've continued to pick up his Topps Now cards - at least through his rookie year.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

My decade stars collection - quirks

While baseball card collecting leads itself to being a hoarder, with the sheer number of cards - I see building up a book of decade stars is something I do with leftover cards and not a priority.

Maybe I get a little jealous at the binder guys who seem to have cards that pop like parallels and wonder if I should seek them out as well - as is, what I pull or find is basically what I end up with.

Jason Heyward and Joc Pederson are not 'highlights' of my collections - but they take up a page or two since they were hyped up prospects.

While basically 'meh' players who might be considered disappointments - they still have their moments of usefulness and I'll display their cards, hoping they still have potential to have an all-star season or two.

I don't have a particular order where cards are laid out on a plastic page - though I like to make it where the cards on a plastic page [pockets 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9] are facing into the center.

On the image posted, the Heyward cards displayed are on the center of a page, so whether or not a cards face a certain way doesn't matter - on the Pederson cards, they are all facing away from the page, which is a 'no-no' in my book, but what can I do when I don't have enough cards to make it where cards in pockets 3, 6, 9 are facing inward?

I guess technically, I can make things work, though it requires a bit of a mental stretch on my part - the Bowman Platinum card [pocket 3] has Pederson's image actually looking towards the corner border of the card, while the minor league card [pocket 6] has Pederson's image staring squarely towards the Hardee's logo and the Diamond Kings card [pocket 9] has Pederson's image looking away from the page, but there is a border on the card that sorts of 'boxes in' the image.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Sorting things out - a couple of random cards

I tried filing away some loose inserts squirreled away in loose blaster / mega boxes into a 3,200 count box I have for my archive of insert cards - I pulled a couple of cards to go into a couple of mini-collections and if I can use a card in another collection, I should be proactive in grabbing pulling it because it would get lost.

My A-Z inserts collection maybe designed - as a final destination for miscellaneous finds or pulls.

I saw I had doubles of a Erik Goeddel certified autograph - I pulled one and went out and bought another, not realizing I had a copy already.

I added one to my bloodlines collection since his brother Tyler plays professionally - Erik has bounced around a little bit and ended up with the Los Angeles Dodgers this year.

The relief pitcher looks like he has posted decent numbers, though he is more of a long relief / mop-up guy - as opposed to having a more prominent role out of the bullpen.

Tyler was also picked up by the Dodgers this year and is currently playing in the minors - Tyler was a rule a Rule 5 pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015 and spent the 2016 season in the major leagues.

I also set aside a Team USA jersey card of one time minor leaguer Hayden Hurst - professional baseball didn’t work out for him and now he is a rookie tight end in the NFL.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tools of ignorance collection - a visual guide

For the final sampler page I put together for my mini-collections, I grabbed 18 tools of ignorance cards - catching maybe the least glamorous position on a baseball field, but unlike other position players, catchers are the most unique type of baseball player.

Because catchers take a beating during a game, catchers stand out as the only guys to wear the tools of ignorance - including shin guards, chest protector a face mask, etc.

My collection features any card that has a catcher in it, including play at the plate cards - I think I've counted cards of non-catchers featuring play at the plate images, though if it isn't the catcher's, I'll lean towards classifying the card to go into my awesome action collection.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pitchers hitting collection - a visual guide

I grabbed 18 'pitchers hitting' cards for my mini-collection sampler and the collecting topic subset is kind of a catch-all - for pitchers who have bats in their hands but aren't exactly hitting in a game, wearing batting helmets, bunting, practicing and finally, pitchers whose cards show them on the basepaths.

Seeing pitchers act the role of hitters or baserunners can be such a peculiar thing - so it is another neat, easter egg deal to find cards with 'action shots' of pitchers not doing the usual pitching.

Looking at the cards on the page, I realized the Nolan Ryan cards in the center are from the pre-DH days of the American League - in his lone season batting in the AL without a DH, Ryan was 13-for-96 with five doubles and one triple.

The Hall of Fame pitcher's slash line as a batter in 1972 was .135 / .153 / .208 - which is probably comparable to the career numbers opposing batters have put up against Ryan on the mound.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Featured autograph: Francisco Arcia

Arcia, who spent 12 professional seasons before reaching the big leagues, has had quite the week - hitting a pair of home runs and collecting 10 RBI in his first two MLB games for the Angels.

When Arcia was signed by the Angels as minor league depth, I picked up this 2012 Bowman Chrome refractor to pair up with a lone card I had - I was hoping to get his cards signed in-person during a spring training trip in 2017, but that didn't happen.

Digging through my notes about miscellaneous card pick-ups, I actually picked this up as part of a group of 120 cards I picked up for $8 and loose change at a card shop last fall - I typed out Arcia was a minor league journeyman 'who was in the Angels system this past season [2017], likely somewhere else next year.

In 2018, Arcia ended up back in the Angels system as minor league depth and I was able to get my cards signed - when Arcia was playing with the Salt Lake Bees.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Bonus babies collection - a visual guide

I grabbed 18 'bonus babies' cards for my mini-collection sampler - bonus babies which are probably referred to as 'cameo' cards, pictures a star player on a common player's card.

I like stumbling upon them because it's like an easter egg most collectors wouldn't pay attention to while flipping through loose cardboard - for a player to count as a 'star' cameo, an all-star appearance is considered as well as whether a player has had some name recognition through points of his MLB career.

Probably the most difficult aspect collecting these cards besides finding them in the first place are the inconclusive images - who is exactly pictured on the background of certain players' cards when the focus is on the player who is listed on the card?

Most of the time the obscured player in the background is who I assume it is - but when the image is blurred, there is some doubt at times.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Local players collection - a visual guide

To keep up with a little trivia since I live in Orange County, California, I've built up a collection of cards featuring professional ballplayers local to the county [even if only up a certain point for some guys] - born, raised, has lived or lives in the county, went to high school and/or college.

For my 17-card sampler lot, I went with in-person autograph cards since they stood out a little bit more - the only card that isn't autographed is one featuring Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who pitched in the early 20th century.

First row: Paul Abbott - Sunny Hills High, Hank Conger [2009 O-Pee-Chee Los Angeles Angels team card] - Huntington Beach High, Alex Burnett - Ocean View High
Second row: Ben Francisco - Servite High, Freddie Freeman - El Modena High, Johnson - Fullerton Union High
Third row: Michael Lorenzen - Fullerton Union High, Ian Kennedy - La Quinta High, Jeff Robinson - Troy High School

First row: Steve Buechele - Servite High, Marty Cordova - Orange Coast College,* David Bacani - Los Alamitos
Second row: Charlie Hough [lives in Brea, which is in the county], Greg Harris - Los Alamitos High, Travis Denker - Brea Olinda High
Third row: Austin Romine - El Toro High, Brandon Maurer - Orange Lutheran

*I count guys who went to an OC high school or college but actually from out of state or even from a different nation - since I assume they had to make a commitment to play / live / study within the county for a period of time.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018 Topps Big League blaster recap

At different points of the year, collectors expect new releases but I wonder why Topps flagship product isn't enough to satisfy collectors - who aren't going to be looking to spend too much on maybe loose pack or loose retail boxes.

There is something about some variety but if I was a casual card collector who supposedly isn't interested in the modern day bells and whistles - I might live and die with plain old regular Topps, rather than collecting an even lower-end alternative.

Box card
B1 Mike Trout - I like the novelty of being able to cut out a bonus card being printed on the side of these boxes, but if I ever buy another box, I may just cut out the panel with the card; imperfection should be part of the charm, but my efforts with hand cut cards leaves the finished product always looking a little shoddy.

Blue border pack
#175 Ervin Santana

#205 Chris Taylor
#339 Bo Jackson
#168 Nomar Mazara

Pack one
#54 Mitch Haniger
#37 J.D. Martinez
#59 Jameson Taillon
#4 Jon Lester
#13 Chris Archer

#150 Mike Trout
#296 German Marquez
#334 Ernie Banks
#85 Jose Ramirez
#13 Chris Archer - Gold border parallel

Pack two
#86 Ken Giles
#156 Mike Leake 
#212 Elvis Andrus
#44 Trey Mancini
#339 Bo Jackson
#56 Wil Myers

#204 A.J. Pollock
#357 Ballpark Landmarks - Ernie Banks Statue
#53 Brandon Drury

#150 Mike Trout - Gold border parallel 

Pack three
#81 Jonathan Schoop 
#125 Alex Wood
#155 Steven Souza Jr. 
#256 Kenley Jansen

#351 Ballpark Landmarks - this is a card of a wall.
#118 Lance McCullers Jr.
#137 James Paxton
#302 AL Home Run Leaders - feat. Judge, Khr. Davis and Gallo

#MI-10 Mike Trout - Ministers of Mash insert
#296 German Marquez - Gold border parallel 

Pack four
#165 Chance Sisco
#214 Dillon Peters

#206 Kole Calhoun
#49 Sean Newcomb
#288 Logan Forsythe
#295 Zack Cozart
#311 2017 NL Walks Leaders - feat. Votto, Carpenter and Bryant
#231 Marcus Stroman

#131 Josh Donaldson - Players Weekend Base Variation
#269 Justin Verlander  - Gold border parallel 

Pack five
#131 Josh Donaldson
#192 Javier Baez

#355 Ballpark Landmarks
#380 Dylan Bundy
#190 Sandy Alcantara
#77 Austin Hays
#78 Brad Ziegler
#2017 NL Era Leaders - feat. Kershaw, Scherzer and Strasburg
#41 Jason Vargas
#237 Ben Gamel - Gold border parallel
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